Notorious 'jailhouse lawyer' to be paroled to Dunedin

Arthur Taylor is escorted from the back of a police vehicle at the Tairua Police station in 1998 after surrendering to police in bush near Tairua after being on the run for nearly a week after escaping from Paremoremo Prison. Photo: ODT Files
Arthur Taylor is escorted from the back of a police vehicle at the Tairua Police station in 1998 after surrendering to police in bush near Tairua after being on the run for nearly a week after escaping from Paremoremo Prison. Photo: ODT Files

Notorious 'jailhouse lawyer' Arthur Taylor will be paroled to Dunedin when he gets out of prison next month.

Taylor, who has been one New Zealand's most high-profile prisoners, was granted parole yesterday after four decades behind bars.

He was previously denied parole 19 times.

A New Zealand Parole Board spokesperson confirmed Taylor would be paroled to a Dunedin address when he is released mid-February.

A full written decision outlining the Parole Board's reasons would be available within the next two weeks, he said.

Taylor was serving 17 and a half years for charges of explosives, firearms, kidnapping and conspiracy to supply methamphetamine, among other crimes.

The 62-year-old has more than 150 convictions for offences including bank robbery, burglary, fraud and drugs and has spent almost 40 years behind bars.

His first charge dates back to 1972 when he appeared in the Youth Court on a forgery charge.

Taylor's criminal life hit the headlines in 1998 after he escaped from the maximum security prison at Paremoremo north of Auckland with three others, including double murderer Graeme Burton.

The group made their way to the Coromandel, where they hunkered down in luxury holiday homes, including the bach of a multi-millionaire, and the bush to evade authorities.

In recent years he has become better known as the "jailhouse lawyer" after a series of successful court cases.

A friend and advocate for Taylor says the jailhouse lawyer is a legal genius.

Hazel Heal a recently graduated law student, learnt about Taylor and started corresponding with him in prison about Hepatitis C in prison, as she's an advocate on the issue.

Her respect for his legal achievements and legal genius, meant she kept corresponding with Taylor, and speaking to him on the phone.

"I do see him as a legal genius, a most remarkable lawyer who's never been to a single lecture, or had any lessons, and works out of law in the most incredibly difficult conditions, with hardly any computer access."

It would be a waste of his legal skills if he did not continue with his legal work outside of jail, and he had a few cases coming up this year, Ms Heal said.

He might attend a few lectures, but did not necessarily need to, she said.

When it came to getting use to life outside the wire, it was likely everything would be challenging.

"The colours, the information overload the internet, all of those things ... will be overwhelming at first."

Taylor hadn't eaten lettuce or tomato, or petted an animal in years, she said.

His mental strength was so high, he would be able to do it, but would need a lot of support to get used to the world.

- Additional reporting NZME and RNZ

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